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Week 4: Candidates make final pitch as to why they should be elected on Nov. 8

This is the fourth and final installment of The Sun’s Meet the Candidates series. This week, we asked the candidates to make their final pitch as to why they should be elected.


Stephen J. Buividas, Esquire (Republican)

The election in Cherry Hill this year is about “time.” It’s time for the residents to have a real voice in their government. To have a say in the decisions their elected officials make and about how their tax dollars are spent. It’s about ushering in a time when residents know exactly what’s going on and that their voices will really be heard.

Quite frankly, it’s time for the voters to understand we can’t fix the problem if we continue to re-elect the problem.

I decided to run for mayor to give the voters a real choice; to give the residents a government that will listen to them, respect them and be transparent to them. You have my word, as mayor I will listen to you, I will respect you and, most importantly, I will do what’s best for you.

I am not a career politician. I’ve run a successful law practice in Cherry Hill for the past 11 years. My family has operated a real estate business in Cherry Hill for over 45 years. It’s time that I give back to the township that has given my family so much over the years. I do not need to run for mayor. It’s a decision I made. Nobody approached me and asked if I wanted to be mayor. I do not have to answer to anyone except the residents of our township. I have no political relationships with anyone in the county.

During the past six months, I have met so many great people in our township. I have been to many civic association meetings, met with the Fire Chief and the Police Chief, met with the fire union members and the police union members, knocked on thousands of neighborhood doors, and recently, School Superintendent Dr. Maureen Ruecshce, reached out to me to schedule a meeting so we can discuss the important issues moving forward that effect our township and our school system.

I can not understand why our taxes continue to increase despite all the commercial revenue that has come to our township over the last several years. Where has that money gone? The local government has confirmed that there are no tax abatements. What has the government done with this revenue? These are questions the residents want answered. If elected, I will find out and share that information with you.

I believe the residents should have a voice in their government. I am a big believer in the phrase “elected by the people, for the people.” That has not been part of our local government for decades. When was the last time you were asked for your input on a government decision? Did the township ask you about the library before they built it? Has the township asked your opinion on the proposed police regionalization? These are issues that the residents should be deeply involved in. I am opposed to any regionalization of our police and fire departments.

I have three beautiful daughters growing up in Cherry Hill. I understand the importance of thinking about those who will come after us. I want to make decisions that will benefit those generations, not take from them. We must ensure our sons and daughters have leaders to look to for guidance.

Being mayor is not all about being able to run a business. While this knowledge does have a key role in being a mayor, but to be a truly successful mayor it is important you also listen to, and are aware, of the community at-large and understand the people’s concerns. It’s about bringing the community together. It’s about listening, respecting and doing what’s best for the residents.

As your mayor, I promise you I will bring you all of that.

Chuck Cahn (Democrat)

I am a businessman, not a politician. I will use my 30 years of experience building a small family startup into a successful company that employed 250 people to run our government more effectively and efficiently.

I grew up in the Haddontowne section of Cherry Hill, as part of a hard-working middle class family.

My mother helped design the very first jet engine ever made, which was on display at the Franklin Institute for years. I loved going there as a child to see what she achieved. She taught me that anything was possible if you work hard enough.

My father was a World War II bombardier. He taught me what courage and standing up for what you believe in is all about.

I have — and always will — believe in community service because that is how I was raised and that is how my wife and I have raised our three wonderful children.

I am a member of the Rutgers Board of Overseers, the school where I earned my degree after graduating from Cherry Hill East. I served as vice president of the Katz Jewish Community Center for 15 years and was past President of the South Jersey Chapter of the American Diabetes Association. As a business owner, I worked hard to balance budgets, meet payrolls and make sure every penny was spent wisely, and I’ll do that as a full-time mayor too.

As mayor I will:

• Evaluate every program and every line item in the budget, to run Cherry Hill like a business so that we live within our means. I will adopt a zero-based budgeting system to cut spending and ensure every program and service meets our bottom line. I also will ensure contracts are awarded based on the lowest possible cost and will involve more bidders so we get the best possible price.

• Make government more accountable. I will post budgets, contracts — and my own schedule, online. I also will establish a Citizens Cabinet to engage community leaders from all over town in our government, and I will adopt an open door policy and regularly hold town hall meetings both online and in person.

• Keep Cherry Hill affordable. I will establish a Small Business Council to help small businesses start, grow and create jobs. I will also increase ratables and recycle our buildings by encouraging new business owners to locate in our empty office and retail spaces. Bringing in new business helps keep taxes down for the rest of us who pay our taxes.

• Create a more sustainable Cherry Hill. I will evaluate every municipal program and service to identify cost-savings opportunities to protect our environment, conserve energy and create a more sustainable township. I will work with Sustainable Cherry Hill in engaging residents and businesses in efforts to reduce waste and become more energy efficient. I also will preserve and protect our parks, trails and open spaces and create more opportunities for bicycling and walking routes in the township.

• Partner with our schools to enhance education and save money. I will work collaboratively with the schools to find areas in which we can share services and operate more efficiently. I will identify opportunities to offer more joint programming through our recreation department, our library and our schools to meet the diverse interests of children of all ages.

• Keep our community safe. I am opposed to the participation of Cherry Hill police in a countywide police force. Cherry Hill police belong in Cherry Hill. I will work to increase the Township’s public safety efforts to reduce crime and address traffic issues. I will also make sure our police have the necessary tools and technology to protect our neighborhoods.

When I think about Cherry Hill, I think about how far we’ve come — and how much promise we still hold. I think of kids playing football just like I did at East. I think of girls whose path to greatness was blazed by women like my mom. I think of parents who struggle to pay bills and who go through great efforts to pay for college or that long overdue vacation.

No one wants to hear politicians fighting, and no one wants their hard earned money wasted.

That is why I should be elected mayor. Because I know that we can show the rest of the state that when we talk about protecting taxpayers, improving our quality of life and leaving our town better for our children — we mean business.


N. John Amato (Democrat)

I have been serving the community for 28 years and love that I have always been able to fight for seniors and families in Cherry Hill.

As a Councilman, I will lobby the state to increase the Senior Freeze tax rebate program, and fight against Tea-Party Republicans and any plans to do away with Social Security.

In addition, I will make sure residents have a voice in government and to get more citizens involved. I support the establishment of a Citizens Cabinet to engage our residents in helping meet the challenge our township faces.

I have always looked for way to do things better, and that is why I am proud to be running with Chuck Cahn, a businessman who will change the status quo. I am a licensed public accountant and will work with Chuck to look for smart ways to cut government spending without shortchanging our neighborhoods.

I am a longtime Erlton resident, and my wife, Marion, and I have two daughters and two grandchildren. We are quite fortunate that both my daughters and their families live in Erlton. I served in the Army and went to Rutgers on the GI bill.

In addition to serving as a Councilman, I am also on the board of the YALE School for children with special needs and am the former board president of the Camden County Vocational Schools.

I am committed to giving back to the community and look forward to the opportunity to continue to serve as councilman for another four years.

Maria Heckendorn (Republican)

It Is Time For a Change in Government for Cherry Hill Township. As a professional career woman my long-term goal has been to improve the quality of life for families and my community. My career afforded me the opportunity to accomplish this goal and to become a successful leader.

As a citizen, active in community organizations, I have helped to impact the lives of families. However, this is not enough. There needs to be significant change in Cherry Hill in order to help families and businesses thrive in these difficult economic times. Families are losing homes due to high taxes; businesses are leaving our community and people are losing their jobs due to our government’s excessive spending. As councilwoman I will scrutinize the current budget and make recommendations for the necessary changes to stabilize, not increase, our taxes. There also needs to be focus on how we can help Senior Citizens without impacting tax revenue. I will research other sources of funding for our community. It is time to stop forcing seniors out of their community but, instead, make Cherry Hill affordable for all people and business. I believe this can be a reality.

Reviewing Municipal insurance coverage for employees, sharing services with other communities — along with the need to put budgetary items out for bidding versus using the same vendors — must be reviewed and addressed in an effort to trim costs, without sacrificing services. As your councilwoman I will bring community experts to review our current Economic Development Master Plan. It’s time to revitalize areas that are under-utilized and turn them areas into good commercial tax ratables for Cherry Hill.

Residents will have the opportunity to voice their opinion through a Citizen’s Advisory Committee. This is not currently happening. You will be heard and answers to your questions will be given. I believe my life experiences have prepared me well. Affordability is the utmost importance. This is not happening in our township because we need a change of leadership. We need new leaders and new solutions. As councilwoman, I will be unbiased and will always act as your advocate. I will hear and listen to your concerns and find solutions.

It is time to recognize our veterans and young men and women who have fought in war to defend our freedom. As councilwoman I would like to initiate a “Hero Day” to take place on a designated day each year recognizing and celebrating our hometown heroes. We must never forget the tragedies that war has caused and the men and women who have returned to tell their stories. As councilwoman it will be my recommendation to construct a memorial with the names of victims of war and the men and women who survived.

I will fight hard to defend your rights. This is a pledge I do not take lightly. I will be your voice on Township Council and will represent ALL of our citizens. It is time for change and I will work to make Cherry Hill Township affordable for all. This is my pledge to all citizens and my heart-felt reason for running for office in Cherry Hill Township.

Melinda Kane (Democrat)

My roots in the community run deep.

I live in Woodcrest, and my husband and I moved to Cherry Hill more than two decades ago. Together we raised three wonderful boys, and I devoted my time to running a household while also running a small business.

My sons attended Bret Harte and we spent many afternoons in the playground across the street.

Today, that park is named in honor of my son Jeremy, a Marine who was killed in

Afghanistan in 2010. The sign there reads: “Let us not be saddened by the way Jeremy died, but inspired by the way he lived.”

Jeremy was proud of his community, and so am I.

As councilwoman, I will make sure Cherry Hill remains a place we can all be proud of. I will make sure that as a government, we lead by example and maintain our public open spaces. I will work to develop a comprehensive maintenance plan for our parks and playgrounds so no neighborhood is ignored. And I will make our streets safer — whether by installing sidewalks or new traffic signs so our children, seniors and all our residents can walk or ride to the school or store safely.

I have been a volunteer all my life. Growing up, I was a leader in the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization. When my sons were in school I was active in the PTA. Now, as a Gold Star Mother, I am an advocate for veterans and their families.

I look forward to continuing to give back to our community as councilwoman.

Dr. Dolores Kelly (Republican)

As a councilperson, I would be able to implement change in the community. This is my first opportunity to reach out to the community and make a contribution. My goals include creative solutions, exploring shared services, improving affordability and amplifying transparency.

I believe in an open door policy; listening to my constituents and engaging my customer service skills with the public to ensure that I am attuned to their concerns. My teammates have the same ideals and will engage in conversation with the community to ensure we are all working for you.

The residents elect us and we work for them, not for a particular political party or a select few. I believe this is what most people on council currently don’t understand. If the residents give you the privilege of public service, our elected officials need to make the best decisions for them.

This is our town and I promise to work smarter, be proficient, and engage the community to serve every resident, every day.

Sara Lipsett (Democrat)

I am running for re-election to Cherry Hill Town Council because public safety and civic engagement have always been priorities for me.

I am a substitute teacher and an active PTA mom.

I also am a strong advocate for community policing and believe we need to build better partnerships with our neighborhoods, our police officers and our government.

We have a shared responsibility, and we can enhance safety throughout our community. We need to strengthen the lines of communication between our police department and our community and work together to solve community problems. I am against the participation of Cherry Hill police in a countywide police force.

Like a lot of young families, my husband and I moved to Cherry Hill for its strong neighborhoods and great schools.

If re-elected to Council, I will put neighborhoods first by:

• Working with our existing civic associations and helping to establish new ones.

Strong civic engagement makes for a strong community.

• Continuing my work to make Cherry Hill more sustainable through programs like Recyclebank and initiatives to save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

• Making the right choices about cutting government spending and coming up with creative solutions to controlling costs so our taxpayers don’t have to shoulder the burden for new initiatives.

As a Councilwoman, I will make sure Cherry Hill remains a place where people want to live.

Ann Madden Tufano, Esquire (Republican)

From my days in high school when I was involved in student government and had the honor of being a delegate at New Jersey Girls’ State, to my days at Elizabethtown College where I was a Political Science Major with a concentration in Public Administration and served as the President of my school, I have always had a passion for being involved in government and public service. Now, as an attorney and the owner of a family-owned law practice, I have a unique opportunity every day to help people who have been severely injured. My clients place their trust and confidence in me, and they know that I will listen to them with compassion and understanding. Most importantly, my clients know that I will always do the right thing on their behalf.

Serving as a Cherry Hill councilwoman will enable me to do for the residents of our township what I do every day for my clients. I am committed to truly listening to the concerns of our residents and being proactive in finding ways to solve the many struggles our residents face with the highest level of ethical standards. For too long, the residents’ voices have not been heard; it’s time to change that, and I will work hard to give all the residents of Cherry Hill the voice they deserve.

My legal expertise and my analytical ability make me well-suited to serve as councilwoman because the job requires my reading and interpretation of laws and local ordinances as well as the development of new local ordinances for the benefit of our community. In connection with our team’s Economic Development Plan, I will work hard to review our existing ordinances as they apply to businesses so that Cherry Hill can better support our existing businesses, and I will work hard to bring new business and more revenue into the township.

Unfortunately, too many of our residents, particularly our seniors, can no longer afford to live in Cherry Hill because of the continuously rising taxes. I am dedicated to finding ways to reduce municipal spending. I will foster an environment in our municipal government that seeks true competition among professionals who want to do business with Cherry Hill. By doing this, our government can get quality service at the lowest possible price. This cost savings is just one example of how my running mates and I will work to reduce municipal spending, thereby helping to stabilize our taxes.

Additionally, I pledge to continue our town’s progress in sustainability efforts. By working hard to preserve our environment and natural resources, we also save the residents money.

During this campaign, I have had the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people. I truly appreciate their support, advice, and ideas. With your vote on Nov. 8, I look forward to the privilege of serving as your voice in our community.

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